Theme: Responding to God’s Attributes
In this week’s lessons, we learn about the benefits of God’s omniscience for his children.
Scripture: Psalm 139:13-24
When I introduced Psalm 139 in last week’s study, one of the things I said about it is that it is made up of four matched stanzas in which three of God’s greatest attributes are discussed, namely, his omniscience (meaning that God knows all things) omnipresence (meaning that God is everywhere and is there at all times), and omnipotence (meaning that God is supremely powerful). The fourth stanza of the psalm is a response to these attributes.
But I also observed that there is a sense in which the only attribute actually being talked about is omniscience. For the only reason David adds a reflection on God’s omnipresence to the psalm is to explain why it is that God knows everything. God sees and knows everything because God is everywhere. Nothing is hidden from him because nothing can escape him. Now I must add that the psalmist’s discussion of omnipotence is also linked to omniscience because, according to David’s words, a further reason God knows everything is because he has also made everything and controls it.
John Stott expressed this connection when he wrote, “God’s omniscience, which in the previous section has been attributed to his omnipresence, is now attributed to his omnipotence. God can search man out not only because he sees him, but because he made him.”1
Derek Kidner puts it like this: “The third stanza brings together and carries forward the thought of the first two: God not only sees the invisible and penetrates the inaccessible, but is operative there, the author of every detail of my being.”2 Or as the Lutheran writer H. C. Leupold says, “What is being demonstrated is the fact that in his very being man [demonstrates] both the omniscience and the omnipresence of God.”3
But this is a worship psalm, remember? And what that means is that we are not going to find abstract reflections on God’s power, though they occur in other places and are proper in their place. These words are personal.
If we do not understand that God is all-powerful, we do not have a right understanding of God at all. We are thinking of some other being. If God is not all-powerful, there must be some power or powers greater than God. And if that is the case, God’s power must be thwarted and his proper sovereignty restricted by these forces, either by circumstances, human beings or Satan. What kind of a God would that be? No God at all! Arthur W. Pink wrote, “A ‘god’ whose will is resisted, whose designs are frustrated, whose purpose is checkmated, possesses no title to Deity, and so far from being a fit object of worship, merits nought but contempt.”4 If we want to know God, we need to think in the clearest possible way about God’s might and what it means.
1John R. W. Stott, Favorite Psalms (Chicago, IL: Moody, 1988), p. 120.
2Derek Kidner, Psalms 73-150: A Commentary on Books III-V of the Psalms (Leicester, England, and Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1975), p. 465.
3H. C. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1969), p. 946.
4Arthur W. Pink, The Attributes of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1969), p. 28.
How does David link God’s omnipotence to his omniscience? How does he link God’s omnipotence to omnipresence?
What do you say to those who think God’s power is limited?
Key Point: If we want to know God, we need to think in the clearest possible way about God’s might and what it means.
Prayer: Ask God to show you areas in your own life in which you doubt his power and ask for faith to trust him more.